A weekly roundup of the week’s most important news, information and blog posts about curriculum, teaching, education policy and other items of interest to the Core Knowledge community.
What It Takes
You can’t ask kids to do “self-directed” writing about their family, their friends and their personal experiences throughout elementary school to the exclusion of nearly all else, then expect them to dazzle you with their insights into literature in middle school simply because you “raised expectations.”
Before 21st-century skills, teach basics
The Boston Globe
Massachusetts’ 21st Century Skills Task Force recommendations seem so reasonable at first glance: “Evolve” curriculum to include skills students will need to succeed in a rapidly changing world. “But what those skills have in common,” write Charles Chieppo and Jim Stergios of the Pioneer Institute, “is that being proficient at each requires knowledge of the liberal arts.”
The Adult Literacy Paradox
Millions of children struggle to attain a functional level of literacy, but where does the reading problem go when children grow up? Overwhelmingly–but not always accurately–adults rate their own reading skills very highly.
Best of the Blogs
The Calculator Conundrum at Making Education Public
Proponents of calculator use, argue that computational fluency is not essential to higher level math. They observe that higher level math is abstract, symbolic, and largely computation free. What they miss in this argument is distressingly plain to see. Abstraction only works when one knows what is being abstracted.
Flunking the Electoral College at Joanne Jacobs
Seventy-one percent of adults failed a civic (and economic) literacy test, according to Our Fading Heritage by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.
Un-Transition at Edspresso
A look at President-elect Obama’s education transition team members is telling, worries the blog of the Center for Education Reform. “They come from the traditional, Kozol-esque education perspective that relies on well-intentioned government programs and court decisions to force schools to do good, rather than accountability and power in the hands of educators and parents to create good.”
Teaching and Curriculum
Students shortchanged in math teaching
Poor and minority students are about twice as likely to have math teachers who don’t know their subject, according to a report by the Education Trust, a children’s advocacy group. The complete Ed Trust report is available here.
‘Intimidating’ boys put girls off science, minister says
Britain’s new Schools minister advocates a return to single-sex education to get girls more interested in subjects like science and engineering.
Parents clash over kindergarten Thanksgiving costumes
The Los Angeles Times
For decades, Claremont kindergartners have celebrated Thanksgiving by dressing up as pilgrims and Native Americans and sharing a feast. Parents are sharply divided over whether these construction-paper symbols represent a child’s depiction of the traditional tale of two factions setting aside their differences, or a cartoonish stereotype.
The education community is badly split on the issue of how to hold teachers accountable. The establishment sees tenure as teachers’ only guard against politics and arbitrary firings. Reformers regard it as the chief obstacle to change. Obama has given mixed signals on accountability, and in his way, he has convinced each side that he agrees with them.
Schools deserve bailout, too
The Miami Herald
As banks, cities and the auto industry apply to the federal government for a bailout, the Miami-Dade schools chief Alberto Carvalho says Congress shouldn’t forget the nation’s public schools.
The true school scandal
The Los Angeles Times
The Obamas will send their two daughters to the expensive private school, Sidwell Friends. “Yes, that makes him something of a hypocrite,” writes Jonah Goldberg. “But you know what? Who cares? The scandal is that politicians tolerate such awful schools at all. For anyone.”
Support for magnet schools waning despite their success
The Los Angeles Times
The programs have frequently achieved their goal of voluntary integration and high-quality academic programs. But funding is stagnating, partly due to nation’s budget woes.
Homeschooling and Parenting
A New Face for A.D.H.D., and a Debate
The New York Times
The emergence of a major celebrity with attention deficit, Olympic star Michael Phelps, has revealed a schism in the community of patients, parents, doctors and educators who deal with the disorder. For years, these people have debated whether it means a lifetime of limitations or whether it can sometimes be a good thing.
Homeschoolers call for ABC boycott
Joy Behar, on ABC’s The View, remarked that “a lot” of homeschoolers are “demented.” This has many homeschoolers on the defense and even going as far as to call for a boycott of ABC programming.
Michelle Obama’s ‘Mommy’ Stamp
When Michelle Obama took to describing her new role as mom in chief, columnist Ruth Marcus winced. “What does it say about the condition of modern women that Michelle Obama, catapulted by her husband’s election into the ranks of the most prominent, sounds so strangely retro. More Jackie Kennedy than Hillary Clinton?”
Children Who Live in Public Housing Suffer in School, Study Says
New York Times
New York City children who live in public housing perform worse in school than students who live in other types of housing, according to a study by New York University researchers.